The Star of the Kings

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In the 1600s, “star singing” was a Dutch Christmas caroling tradition on Twelfth Night, which commemorated the arrival of the Three Kings in Bethlehem. It was the biggest family celebration of the year. In the Christian tradition, the kings were led by a bright star to Jesus, rumored to be the newborn messiah. Twelfth Night singers carried a star-shaped paper lantern as they went door to door in hopes of receiving small gifts of money or sweets.

Image: Jan van de Velde II, Dutch, c. 1593–after 1641, after Pieter Molijn, Dutch, 1595–1661, The Star of the Kings, late 1620s, Engraving. The William M. Ladd Collection, gift of Herschel V. Jones, 1916 P.760

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